Multilingual moms rock

UX and diversity

Anytime you’re doing UX research, you should be including gender and roles in that research. That includes gender-based and language-based roles in your user research. And bear in mind, “roles” are not always about 9-to-5 jobs, as any full-time parent will tell you.

Alexa: A well-known feminist. But multilingual options are a must for voice-first customers (Amazon Echo image via Internet fair use).

Multilingual options are a must for voice-first customers (Amazon Echo image via Internet fair use).


For example, the Social Lens Research Voice Command Study offers valuable insight into how multilingual moms experience voice-driven conversational interactions. One conclusion is that “Multicultural moms are more likely to use voice commands across more devices, locations, and for more reasons.”   

These US moms are the real power users of voice assistants when it comes to voice-first design thinking. Fascinating stuff; with device-neutral and flexible context of use across languages. And there is of course an important business message to be gleaned from this study: “Include Spanish/bilingual language options. Adapt to how your users actually talk and what words they use in both languages moms who are constantly online and own multiple devices are the current power users of voice.” 

Gender Fender

Here’s another example: the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar — Leo Fender’s classic innovation through design.

User experience storytelling. Electric guitars at Star's Music, Paris. Image by Ultan Ó Broin.

User experience storytelling. Electric guitars at Star’s Music, Paris. Image by Ultan Ó Broin.

I was fascinated by the notion that the comfort aspect of the design was influenced by the shape of the musician’s body. I presume, at the time, playing an electric guitar seemed like a “man’s job,” so the new guitar reflected male player body shapes.

And indeed, St. Vincent (singer Annie Clarke) has responded with her own electric guitar, especially designed for women“Clark wanted to design a more practical guitar than the historic Fender Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul,” LIFEGATE explains, quoting Clark as saying “I would need to travel with a chiropractor on tour in order to play those guitars.”

One size does not fit all

Remember that context of use research must be multi-dimensional — gender, roles, language, and more must be taken into account or you will miss key parts of your customer base. Think diversity.

You may have examples of other gender and language dimensions that need to be included in your global UX research. Please leave a comment if so!

Ultan Ó Broin

About Ultan Ó Broin

Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally. Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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